How well do you know Hong Kong? Could you make your way around the city with nothing but a set of clues and an Octopus card? Forty-eight teams of secondary school students were set this very challenge earlier this month.
They wove through crowds, hopped on and off mini buses, and raced up and down stairs – all with the goal of being crowned the winner of this year’s Communications Association of Hong Kong (CAHK) Geocaching competition.
Known as a “hi-tech treasure hunt’, the contest is a technology-driven race that tests participants’ knowledge not only of Hong Kong’s physical layout, but the issues affecting the city, too.
The 192 students competing this year were given an app that provided clues leading them to six different checkpoints. At each checkpoint, they had to answer questions related to social issues in the city, such as how to bridge the standardisation gap, and the treatment of senior citizens.
Young Post tagged along with the Yan Oi Tong Tin Ka Ping Secondary School team, made up of Form Four students Alan Chan, John Ng, Sunny Leung and Joseph Cheung, and their teacher, Gil Lee. It was the boys’ first geocaching experience, and one which they described as unique and “a lot of fun”.
“My favourite part was running through the streets trying to find the checkpoints; it was quite exciting running through crowds,” said 15-year-old John.
Alan and Sunny liked how the questions prompted them to think about important issues. “These were difficult questions that we couldn’t just Google,” Sunny, also 15, said.
Sixteen-year-old Joseph, however, felt that winning the race involves a lot of luck.
“We had to ride buses everywhere, so if you catch the bus on time you can win the race,” he said. “We got unlucky with the buses so it didn’t matter how fast we ran.”
The intensity of the race varies a lot. At times, the team would be running up flights of stairs, bobbing and weaving through crowds, and sweating profusely trying to get to the next checkpoint or bus stop. But much of the time – at least 30 minutes – was spent waiting for buses.
Even so, Lee, who has now taken part in four Geocaching competitions, said the race has come a long way since the early days.
“It’s much better than before. In the first few races, the apps and the AI didn’t even work,” she said. “It’s incredible how far the technology has come in just a few years.”
The champions – the True Light Girls’ College team – were amazed to find out they had won, given that they missed a minibus at the very beginning of the race.
“We saw another team jump ahead of us so we were playing behind from the beginning,” said Winnie Chun. “But I think because we were very organised and familiar with the area, we were able to win.”
Winnie and her teammates, Yuki Chan, Charissa Wong and Mandy Cheng, all Form Four students, were generously rewarded for their efforts; each received a Huaiwei P20 Lite smartphone.
The runners-up were another all-girls team: St Catharine’s School for Girls students Lorraine Sum, Square Chan, Bonnie Chiu, and Suki Xu. They each won a Moto E4 Plus.
“I think we were able to win because we had an amazing ICT teacher [Mr Lao Tsz-kin] who helped us master the technology we needed to win this competition,” said 16-year-old Square.
Lorraine, also 16, said that they would have won the race had their minibus driver not got into an argument.
“The driver started yelling at a customer for not paying the full fare, and this argument ended up taking several minutes,” she explained, adding frustratedly: “We only lost by a couple of minutes!”
Still, both teams were proud to fly the flag for their gender.
“This proves that girls can compete with boys, and that girls can play a big role in developing technology,” said 17-year-old Bonnie.
Also proving their generosity, all top three teams – including second runners up, Immaculate Heart of Mary College’s Chan Wai-nok, Ho Chung-yuen, Lau Hung-hin, and Leung Kwai-cheung – gave their prizes to their mothers as Mother’s Day presents. Extra brownie points all-round!